Existential Quandary

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120 Replies - 6214 Views - Last Post: 09 June 2011 - 04:10 PM

#1 BenignDesign  Icon User is online

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Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:25 AM

Have you ever felt like there was something more? Like you were destined for more than you've achieved? Like maybe - just maybe - there's more to life than coding and cash?

Don't get me wrong. I love what I do. I love my job. I love my co-workers. I love my paycheck. I love my beautiful children and my decent house and fully-operational vehicle. I love having a little extra cash in the budget. I love having a savings account that holds more than $1.50.

But sometimes it all seems so meaningless. I look around at my family: my sister the nurse, my brother the carpenter, my sister-in-law the vet tech, my cousin the soldier... I look around my workplace: the professors, the librarians, the counselors... I look around at my friends: the park ranger, the addictions counselor, the therapist... and I can't help but wonder if there is more I should be doing.

I'm a web developer. Aside from my children, no one lives or dies by my hand... no one leans on me for support in times of need... no one is counting on me to provide safety or shelter. In fact, if tomorrow morning, the internet was gone and computers outlawed, everything else would still go on. The nurses would still help the sick, the carpenters would continue to build, the vet tech would still assist the animals, professors would still educate the masses, librarians would still keep watch over their stacks, counselors and therapists would still provide an ear to bend, soldiers would still fight and defend, and park rangers would still be there to protect wildlife and the people who dare to walk among it. But the web developers, the applications developers, the computer techs, the network administrators... we would be gone.

What I'm asking, I guess... is do you ever feel like you should be contributing something to the greater good? Like you have more of a role to play in life than just being really good at writing a language no one else understands? Do you do something about it? Or is it just another bothersome feeling to be shoved into the void with your self-esteem and social skills?

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Replies To: Existential Quandary

#2 Dogstopper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:31 AM

I have thought about that at times. I am still young and have the choice to change careers. Right now, I'm looking into dual majoring Computer Science AND Physics so that I can fall back on either one. But what I realized is that if the internet and computers go, the rest of the world will suffer far more than you'd believe.

Everyone from doctors to park rangers use computers these days. Doctors use it to schedule patients, keep track of essential information, and do research rapidly on topics that they are not familiar with. That information may just save save someone's life. Park Rangers may use an online database to keep track of animals in a certain area and do statistics based on those numbers.

If the internet and computers crash and burn, the rest of the world will come to a screeching halt as well. Thus, it IS for the greater good.
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#3 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:34 AM

Not really. I'm happy with what I do coding for cash, but I give back as well. I help people on DIC, and I tutor others in Java and CS in real life. I also know that my tax dollars, even in minuscule amounts when considered, go towards things like education and helping those without the physical or mental capacity to help themselves. My paycheck and spending also stimulates the economy in a small part, which helps stimulate jobs.

Personally, I'm glad nobody lives or dies by my hand, or depends on me significantly for support. I'm in no position to financially support someone else.

Quote

Like you have more of a role to play in life than just being really good at writing a language no one else understands?

I'm a graph theorist, not just a programmer. So even if there were no more computers, I would still be fine as a mathematician.
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#4 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:38 AM

*
POPULAR

This feeling you describe is why I do what I do. The money is nice, but it's the teary-eyed customers that drive me to fix their issues. When Best-Buy tells them it can't be done, they come & see me. I offer them faster turn-around times for a cheaper price. They get their equipment back & get back to doing what they love, or what they need to get done. There is no better thank you than the sigh of relieve because someone else told them it wasn't fixable.

Favorite success story I've told a hundred times over, & over again. A girl calls my shop & asks if we fix USB flash drives. I told her yes, she clarifies. Again the answer is yes (I'm thinking wtf?). She again wants to clarify, maybe I didn't understand what she's asking, yes yes yes I fix USB flash drives. She's called a ton of shops in town & everyone tells her no, so she's having trouble believing me. So the story goes that she's calling on behalf of a friend, who is in tears & can't even bring herself to use the phone she's shaking so badly. She was working on her master thesis, due end of the week, & someone walking by her PC stepped on the thumb drive. Everything was lost. After half an hour I had her files on a DVD, & sent her on her way.

I may not be saving lives, but I truly enjoy what I do.
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#5 BenignDesign  Icon User is online

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:40 AM

I'm not talking about switching careers or having something to 'fall back on' if the computer industry takes a nosedive.

I'm talking about a longing to actually make a difference in life... you know.. all those hippy-dippy, touchy-feely, lovey-dovey, hold hands and sing a song with Stevie Wonder kinds of things...

Do you ever feel like you should contribute more to the world than just code and pictures on a light-up screen?
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#6 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:45 AM

Go help at the soup kitchen.
Give out sandwiches to homeless people during christmas eve.
Give out cheap 0.50$ toys to child beggers during christmas.
Organize a neighborhood barbecue.

It's tough to reach out and start doing something, but starting is the hardest part. The rest comes easy.
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#7 creativecoding  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 08:51 AM

*removed*

This post has been edited by creativecoding: 02 June 2011 - 12:07 PM

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#8 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:02 AM

Aren't you 13?
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#9 Dogstopper  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:08 AM

View Postcreativecoding, on 02 June 2011 - 11:51 AM, said:

no


Seriously dude? Have some discussion. Prove your point. At 13, you may not have experienced all that there is in coding. Me being 17 w/ 4+ tears of coding experience and a full-time internship coding, and I still have not seen HALF of what there is out there. Also, High School changes things. The social ramifications of high school make you realize that there is more to life than coding.

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I do think that you need to support your point better.
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#10 NeoTifa  Icon User is online

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:10 AM

Yes, that's why I want to join the military.
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#11 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:14 AM

Yes, I've definitely spent a lot of time trying to find something that's rewarding to me. Yes, I can program. No, I don't feel rewarded when I accomplish things at work. Maybe Computer Science and programming are destined to be hobbies for me and I should find some true calling. I'm convinced I'm smart enough to learn most anything I want to do, it's just figuring that something out that's killing me.
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#12 Creecher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:28 AM

Go be a present day Chris McCandless
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#13 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:41 AM

That would definitely be a jolly good time.
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#14 souptoy  Icon User is offline

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:41 AM

View PostNeverPool, on 02 June 2011 - 09:28 AM, said:

Go be a present day Chris McCandless


I tried doing that...I ended up reading Thoreau and wanting to live off the land more...but I never did...I understand what Benign is saying...my plan is to do what I can now to prepare for life afterwards and help people in retirement. I'd definitely like to do something with more "meaning" but I just can't afford to at the moment.
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#15 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: Existential Quandary

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:51 AM

Existential Angst? Yep, sure, all the time. It's one of those dangers of thinking too much. Stop that! ;)

View PostBenignDesign, on 02 June 2011 - 11:25 AM, said:

But sometimes it all seems so meaningless.


It is, actually. I spotted a brilliant book title the other day: "Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry" It made me laugh...

In 100 years, everything we see and value won't even exist anymore. It's a shame you noticed, but don't let it get you down. People seem to have a fundamental need for meaning. We'll find meaning in damn near anything, like spotting Elvis in burnt toast. We come up with elaborate mythologies, glorifying how important everything is and how it all somehow matters. We fight wars with anyone who would question our fantasies of meaning, because the alternative disillusionment.

How do you deal with cognition of profound pointlessness? Do you just kill yourself, like many readers of Kierkegaard did when he adeptly pointed it out? Still here? Good.

Just because it doesn't matter, doesn't mean your actions don't have meaning. The journey can be a happy carefree stroll or a miserable shitstorm. If you choose not to be an asshole, you can not only make your own experience on this little dirt ball more pleasant, but help others who might be having a harder time. Honestly, just being aware enough of other people not to screw with them is probably better than most.

Personally, I make cashiers laugh. If you're on auto pilot and I run into you, I will wake you up. Sadly, I often hear that I'm the first person that's been nice to them all week( or month, or ever!) If everyone could try to fix that, that would be cool.
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